By Ray Delcourt
“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”. Of course we all know Bogie’s famous quote from Casablanca. Not a religious movie, I admit, but a film that is embedded in people’s hearts and human flash drives forever. So many movies touch our souls and hearken us back to memories. There are first date movies (“Oliver’s Story”…YIKES!) and movies with the family, (how about “Star Wars” with the Grandpas, Dads, Sons, Daughters, Moms, EVERYONE!) Anyway you look at it, movies play a role in the American landscape. Do movies play a part in our Christian life? OF COURSE THEY DO! (or I wouldn’t be writing this…LOL!)
We have all seen at least one religious film. “The Ten Commandments” comes to mind as the first I saw. Brought up Catholic it was actually the way I learned about the Bible. Seeing the Red Sea part and the Burning Bush aglow, I was mesmerized by the images and the story. As a lad of 10 years old, I was smitten with God’s love through the magic of cinema. Later that year at my dentist’s office, there was a Bible on the table. I began pouring through it, and God touched my soul forever, but it started with Mr. Heston on the silver screen.
Of course there are the other obvious choices. The most popular worldwide movie is Mel Gibson’s, “The Passion of the Christ”, a film we screened at Marcus Cinema as a congregation with a discussion following at the theater. I remember being proud to be part of a church that was progressive and forward thinking enough to provide that type of opportunity for their members. It was enlightening! The movie itself caused a lot of controversy within religious groups across the world and sparked debate and discussion. As all art should do, it served as a tipping point at the time for a discussion on Christianity across the globe, and forced many of us into a brief but important call to action to tell people Christ’s story of love and grace. Yes, a MOVIE did that…inspired and educated! Pass the Jr. Mints, please!
Now there are hundreds of other movies I could write about, and in future newsletters we will share more musings. Here are two more that, for me, stir the soul: First, “Lilies of the Field” with Mr. Sidney Poitier (1963) is the story of an ex-GI handyman who helps down on their luck nuns build their desperately prayed for chapel. Taken from the 1962 novel by William Edmund Barrett, the story is truly an example of how devotion and faith in fellow man can help rebuild a person’s hope and faith in themselves and God. I watched this on WGN over the old fashioned antenna- fuzziness and all- and in glorious black and white, but to me I saw it all in color with hope that sparked me throughout my life. Yes, once again a movie did that.
I leave you with a small personal film, “Resurrection” (1980). Starring the fabulous Ellen Bursytn, this is the story of a woman who survives a car accident only to find out she can heal people’s physical ailments. The movie takes many turns as society finds out about her gift and tries to define how she got the power. Meanwhile, her boyfriend has other “religious” thoughts as to why she has her gifts. This film will challenge you to look at how the world views what we can’t explain, even though God may not want us to have everything explained while here on earth. ( The film has a great ending , but I won’t spoil it for you!)
So whether you love nuns who are on the run and sing in the choir, are a “Soul Surfer”, or if you think “Heaven Is For Real”, there is one thing we can all agree on (as Dan Akroyd said so perfectly in the 1980’s classic Chicago made film, “Blues Brothers”) “We are on a MISSION FROM GOD”, and what a wonderful tool we have to share His message. You can be a part of a Movie And Discussion (MAD) night right here at Christ Lutheran Church, where we see new (and not so new) faith-based films and follow them with a great group discussion. Be sure to check the church website at www.christlutheranorland.com for upcoming movie titles and dates.
See you at the movies! (And rest in peace Roger and Gene; thank you for sharing your love of the movies with a budding, young Christian!)